MassDeduction
Posts: 131
Joined: Tue Feb 25, 2020 3:24 pm

Solar charging a 2016 Soul EV

Hi there, I watched an interesting YouTube video that demonstrated why you can't/shouldn't trickle-charge a Nissan Leaf directly from a solar panel, and the video's assertion was that the car requires a minimum level of current when charging the high voltage battery.

However, some cars absolutely can do this. For example, some trims of the Ioniq 5 come with a solar roof that can trickle charge the battery at very low rates (cloudy days, for example).

Has anyone attempted this with a first-gen Soul EV? My thought was to rig up (or better yet, purchase a ready made) solar panel, that includes whatever inverter is required to provide AC power to the on-board charger, and then have the electricity fed to a J1722 plug. My goal here would be to put this device on top of the car to A) charge the vehicle and B) provide shade for it. I would lay it at an angle from the front of the hood to the top of the roof, so there should be ample airflow beneath the panel for cooling purposes.

So the question is, will the Soul EV accept a solar trickle charge? The issue with the Leaf in the video was the charging system appeared to disconnect when it dropped below a minimum threshold (I think it was 0.7 kW). Would the 2016 Soul EV suffer the same fate?

I'm hoping to avoid having to run the solar into a portable lithium ion power station, then plugging an EVSE into that. I'd love to cut out the cost and weight of the battery in the power station.
Last edited by MassDeduction on Sun Aug 14, 2022 1:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
IanL
Posts: 349
Joined: Tue Feb 18, 2020 12:57 pm
Location: Jersey, English Channel Islands

Re: Solar charging a 2016 Soul EV

If it's any help, my QUBEV charger has selectable charge rates. The lowest is 10A (2.25 kW), and the Soul is happy with that.
notfred
Posts: 600
Joined: Thu May 07, 2015 2:28 pm

Re: Solar charging a 2016 Soul EV

I think it is going to suffer the same fate as the Leaf because there's a certain amount of power that the Soul needs to power up all the electronics while charging. From what others have reported this is a fixed value, the same regardless of Level 1 or Level 2 - which is why it is more efficient to charge on Level 2.
MassDeduction
Posts: 131
Joined: Tue Feb 25, 2020 3:24 pm

Re: Solar charging a 2016 Soul EV

IanL wrote: Sun Aug 14, 2022 12:16 pm If it's any help, my QUBEV charger has selectable charge rates. The lowest is 10A (2.25 kW), and the Soul is happy with that.
Heh... 2.25 kW, I wish! In North America our included charge cables (EVSE units) are only 120 volts/12 amps, so the theoretical maximum is 1.44 kW, and you'll never quite get that due to losses. :P

2.25 kW would also be a gigantic solar array to place on top of a car. I'm thinking something with a theoretical maximum more along the lines of 0.4 kW! :)

The challenge is that some EVs require more than that to engage the on-board AC charger. While others seem to be able to trickle charge at any old rate.

In the YouTube video I watched they suggested that the minimum the Leaf in the video could sustain was 0.7 kW. Like you, I have an EVSE with selectable rates and it can go as low as 0.72 kW (120v @ 6 amps), but I don't know if that's the lower limit for the Soul EV.

You've got me thinking though. I suppose I can experiment by putting the EVSE into it's lowest mode, and then set the car to charge at it's slowest rate, and see how low the two together can go. That might give me some idea. Thanks for the reply! :)
Last edited by MassDeduction on Sun Aug 14, 2022 1:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
MassDeduction
Posts: 131
Joined: Tue Feb 25, 2020 3:24 pm

Re: Solar charging a 2016 Soul EV

notfred wrote: Sun Aug 14, 2022 1:01 pm I think it is going to suffer the same fate as the Leaf because there's a certain amount of power that the Soul needs to power up all the electronics while charging. From what others have reported this is a fixed value, the same regardless of Level 1 or Level 2 - which is why it is more efficient to charge on Level 2.
That makes sense. But that's not much of a problem if the minimum level is, for example, 0.1 kW. And it's a huge problem if it's 1.0 kW. ;) Seems like no one knows for sure, so it's time to experiment and see what I can figure out (if anything). Or give up and get a portable lithium ion power station to feed the solar into, which isn't my first choice due to weight, cost, and theft. I can lock the J1772 connector into the charge port, but that's mostly helpful if it's all one wired-together unit. The more modular the solution is, the worse it is for all three (weight/cost/theft) considerations.
jerry22
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Aug 28, 2022 8:16 am

Re: Solar charging a 2016 Soul EV

The Basics Of Staying Charged

The lithium-ion battery in the Soul EV is 27 kWh and would charge at a rate of about 1-2 kWh from the standard CHAGER per hour. This meant that 50% – 100% charge would be around 12 – 14 hours and a full charge from around 20% – 100% could take closer to 18 hours.
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MassDeduction
Posts: 131
Joined: Tue Feb 25, 2020 3:24 pm

Re: Solar charging a 2016 Soul EV

jerry22 wrote: Sun Aug 28, 2022 8:20 am The Basics Of Staying Charged

The lithium-ion battery in the Soul EV is 27 kWh and would charge at a rate of about 1-2 kWh from the standard CHAGER per hour. This meant that 50% – 100% charge would be around 12 – 14 hours and a full charge from around 20% – 100% could take closer to 18 hours.
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Thanks for the reply. The actual rate of charging isn't important, as this could be a daily thing, for 8.5 hours a day activity, for a car that doesn't get driven very far. :)
povrazor
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2022 11:52 pm

Re: Solar charging a 2016 Soul EV

I've been pondering this too. I've had some luck with unusual solar setups, such as a panel sandwiched in-between the payne's of my apartment window. Mounting a panel that charges a power station is no big deal (or one that charges the 12V battery), but the high voltage battery I'm not sure. I would love if the Soul could soak up 1 KW from some roof mounted panels, especially since I came charge mine at home otherwise. 😅
MassDeduction
Posts: 131
Joined: Tue Feb 25, 2020 3:24 pm

Re: Solar charging a 2016 Soul EV

povrazor wrote: Thu Nov 17, 2022 12:00 am I've been pondering this too. I've had some luck with unusual solar setups, such as a panel sandwiched in-between the payne's of my apartment window. Mounting a panel that charges a power station is no big deal (or one that charges the 12V battery), but the high voltage battery I'm not sure. I would love if the Soul could soak up 1 KW from some roof mounted panels, especially since I came charge mine at home otherwise. 😅
My testing so far indicates that it can, but you'd need an appropriate inverter, and it might only work if you can deliver current that meets or exceeds 500w.

However, replacing the inverter with an appropriate power station would be a winner, and not necessarily a lot more expensive if you got a minimalist one, but would add weight and other complications. Theft being one of them, so you might put the power station inside the car and run a cable to it through a cracked-open window maybe? Or maybe hide it under the hood somehow, if there was room for it? There might be room for it, especially if you switched to a smaller (lithium) 12v battery.

One cool thing about doing it with an appropriate power station is that when you also have access to a wall outlet, you can charge the power station off of the wall outlet and the solar simultaneously, and then charge the car at a faster rate than either power source could do individually. You'd need something other than the stock charging cable, though.

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